Quiet Cheering Marks Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay


Naraha/Hirono, Fukushima Pref., March 25 (Jiji Press)--The Tokyo Olympic torch relay, which began in Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday, was marked by quiet cheering from roadside spectators wearing face masks amid lingering fears over the novel coronavirus.

The 121-day tour leading up to the July 23 opening ceremony of the postponed Tokyo Games started at the J-Village national soccer training center, which straddles the towns of Naraha and Hirono in the northeastern Japan prefecture.

J-Village was once used as a base for workers dealing with the country's worst nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Asato Owada, a 16-year-old high school first-grader of Hirono, received the Olympic flame with a pink-gold torch from a member of the "Nadeshiko Japan" national soccer team that won the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2011. Then Nadeshiko Japan members served as the first runners in the torch relay.

In a white uniform printed with a red sash, Owada jogged a few hundred meters, holding the torch in his right hand and waving his left.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press